States against nomadic cities/routes : Camps, institutional violence, and the autonomy of migration
First meeting of the Global Streets project
First meeting of the Global Streets project (Global Cities chair), with :
Saskia Sassen, Global Cities chair's
Luca Palmas, University of Genoa
Michel Agier, EHESS
In October 2016, I witnessed the dismantlement of Calais informal camp, a complex hub where different actors developed tactics and strategies either to realize and support the last jump to the UK, or to stop and redirect the flow, pushing back people. In such a kind of social arena police officers and lawyers, no-borders activists and doctors, humanitarian volunteers and truck drivers, reporters and judges, local-national authorities and social workers, smugglers and priests of all denominations, and of course refugees and migrants as clients/targets of different types of discourse and interventions, cooperated and clashed.
When the camp was finally evacuated, we engaged in an ethnography following the trajectory of certain bio-stories in their turbulent travel through France and Europe. Some of our informants accepted to enter in a temporary refuge zone managed by the State and were scattered throughout France; many decided to stay on the run and went back to Paris, where new informal camps in the city center (Stalingrad) provided them for a short time some precarious opportunities. A few months after the evacuation, new informal camps were gradually emerging alongside the Channel, and a new institutional site in Paris did not solve the refugee crisis of informal settlement inside the urban area.
In camps and other formal or informal shelters, institutional violence and the autonomy of migration measure their relative strength. We will engage a discussion about such a relationship, its impact on the construction of new spaces and routes, as well as the affirmation of the right to the city through an act of presence by migrants/refugees and other ordinary actors.